After the bout was postponed, rescheduled and repackaged on multiple occasions over the last seven months, we’ll finally have a definitive conclusion as heavyweights Daniel Dubois (15-0, 14 KOs) and Joe Joyce (11-0, 10 KOs) collide next week. Naturally, there’s plenty at stake for both.
Daniel Dubois vs Joe Joyce
November 28: Church House, London – ring walks expected after 10pm UK
I think it’s fair to say, since Fury-Wilder 2 unfolded in February, Dubois-Joyce is the most exciting and eagerly-anticipated heavyweight clash that boxing fans have been eager to see.
Pencilled in for April, then July, then October… we’ll finally have lift off next weekend from Church House – even if it’s behind closed-doors, something Frank Warren was keen to avoid.
It’ll be on BT Sport in the UK, ESPN2 in the US and even in unprecedented times such as these, it’s become increasingly clear that bigger opportunities await the winner here.
Joyce only picked up boxing at 22, with some invaluable experiences at amateur level before turning professional in July 2017.
Dubois – who turned 23 in September – was already 5-0 by the time Joe made his pro debut, so you can already see where their boxing timelines diverge.
Daniel is 12 years younger and has made clear he wants tougher tests than Joyce, who isn’t getting any younger at 35. That alone should spur the Juggernaut on to silence him here.
“Whatever he does I’ve got an answer for it.
If he tries to move in and fight, that’ll be better for me – that’s what I want – but if he boxes, I can do that too. I’m not worried about what he’ll try and do.”
Silencing critics, the outside noise
He’s confidently predicted a devastating knockout finish and it’s difficult to argue, given his speed and fearsome power. However, many have publicly backed Joyce to emerge victorious.
Among them is Tom Little (10-8), who Dubois beat for the-then vacant English HW title with a fifth-round TKO two summers ago. He’s lost his last four bouts and although entitled to his own opinion, there’s clear bias involved which cannot be ignored either.
Joyce often calls him up for sparring sessions, so why would he go against a training partner?
“When I say I want Joe to win, it’s not because I don’t like Daniel. He’s a nice boy, I have no hard feelings towards him.
I just think it is a fight too early for him against someone who has big amateur pedigree and fought big names as a professional.
“The first minute of that fight is going to be so important; Joe needs to take his jab away. If he can do that, Daniel doesn’t carry that concussive hurtful power.
He is so, so strong but doesn’t carry that power up close in short mid-range. Joe will be horrible for him to fight, a bit like Dereck Chisora would be. Joe doesn’t let you fight at your pace.”
In boxing, the classic phrase: you’re only as good as your last fight.
Although Dubois has faced weak opposition recently, Joyce didn’t exude confidence with a third-round TKO win over Michael Wallisch back on July 25. He was overweight and sluggish.
Yeah, he’d been out of the ring for a year, but the optics just didn’t look good. Not when his toughest test was in the offing against a young talented domestic rival ranked #2 by the WBO.
That tune-up display led to his former promoter David Haye providing an unapologetically blunt assessment and you could tell where Haye’s frustration came from. Watch for yourself:
Haye recently doubled down on his endorsement by claiming Joyce would win, but the 40-year-old’s predictions haven’t exactly been razor-sharp.
He backed Dereck Chisora to stun Oleksandr Usyk last month, but instead the former undisputed cruiserweight champion showcased his skills en route to a comfortable UD win.
There have been rumblings that Usyk-Dubois could be booked at some stage in 2021 but again, that’s dependent on a number of factors – not least Daniel winning here, for starters.
Remember when I wrote this piece, on Usyk being Anthony Joshua’s WBO mandatory challenger? That was December 2019 – pre-pandemic – and plenty has changed since then.
Joshua returns to action after a 12-month hiatus on December 12 against IBF mandatory Kubrat Pulev, while super fights with Tyson Fury continues to lurk promisingly in the background.
time is ticking, Joyce cannot afford to lose
Imagine how Joyce and his team must feel. He’s shared hundreds of sparring rounds with Joshua since both came through Team GB’s amateur programme, yet not regarded among the world’s elite heavyweights and only a top #10 HW by the IBO at the time of writing.
That could all change with a statement win over Dubois. But imagine if he loses, particularly in devastating fashion as has become synonymous with a heavy-handed heavyweight division.
Joyce has faced – and lost – to the likes of Usyk and Tony Yoka (8-0, 7 KOs) as an amateur but while time is on Dubois’ side should he lose, you can’t convincingly say the same for Joe.
Within the world’s top 50 heavyweights (ranked via BoxRec), only three have challenged for a world title at a later age than Joyce is now: Luis Ortiz, Carlos Takam and Alexander Povetkin.
Takam was a late-notice replacement for Pulev three years ago, though both he and new WBC interim title-holder Povetkin lost via TKO to Joshua in successive years (2017, 2018).
Ortiz had two fights with, and came closest to beating former WBC champion Deontay Wilder before Fury ended the Bronze Bomber’s unbeaten championship reign nine months ago.
This will be interesting as we’ll finally get answers to some burning questions we’ve been asking since this domestic matchup was first on promoters’ lips.
If Dubois wants those big fights soon, he must keep winning – Nathan Gorman was left in his dust last July but can Joyce stop the hype here?
nov. 28 Undercard is as follows:
Super-lightweight: Jack Catterall vs Abderrazak Houya
Super-welterweight: Hamzah Sheeraz vs Guido Nicolas Pitto
Cruiserweight: Jack Massey vs Mohammad Ali Bayat Farid
Heavyweight: David Adeleye vs Danny Whitaker
Heavyweight: Mitchell Barton vs Matt Gordon
Louie Lynn and Joshua Frankham are both expected to feature on the card, though their opponents are yet to be confirmed.
Pictures’ source: boxingscene.com, News Group Newspapers Ltd